Pre-Service Physical Education Teacher's Perceptions of Teaching before and after a Semester Long Elementary Physical Education Practicum Experience

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study investigated perceptions of teaching by four-year college pre-service teachers (N=20) before and after participation in a semester long practicum in elementary physical education classes. A survey consisting of 13 open-ended questions was prepared and administered to male (n = 11) and female (n = 9) pre-service teachers. Qualitative data analyses were used to interpret pre- and post-practicum survey responses. A qualitative, thematic content analysis was performed on transcribed interviews to identify relative themes supporting each open-ended question. Findings suggest a comprehensive teaching perspective by those educators preparing four-year college pre-service physical education teachers, particularly focusing on classroom.

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Placek and Silverman (1983) felt if teacher education programs wished to introduce prospective teachers to the profession it seemed vital for students to begin the "real work" of teachers, that is, teaching. Student teaching in an elementary or secondary school setting may be more than desirable, it may be essential. The intended purpose of a physical education teacher education (PETE) program is to prepare prospective teachers to effectively teach in schools. For this to be accomplished PETE programs should create a foundation that will prepare students for their first years of teaching. One pre-service program component that can help create a strong foundation is the practicum experience (PE). A practicum experience is defined as any situation where the pre-service teacher has actual contact with pupils in a natural setting with the possibility of manipulating instructional variables (Sieforth & Samuel, 1978),

When placing a pre-service teacher (PST), certain factors need to be addressed. One such factor is placing PST in classes with large numbers of students (Placek & Silverman, 1983). Another is the placement of PST with competent classroom teachers who can serve as proper examples of good physical education teaching (Behets, 1990). With proper pre-practicum planning the pre-service teacher will obtain quality experience with children, in a "real-world" setting (Placek & Silverman, 1983), thus having a stronger likelihood for success during their student teaching (Curtner-Smith, 1996). The PST is going to be exposed to realistic life experiences, thus promoting well-informed decision- making regarding their career choice (Paese, 1987). It should be noted that the literature does not come out and say that the PST should have a quality practicum experience. Yet, the literature has an underlining hope that the PST will have a quality experience, thus better preparing them for their student teaching experience.

The literature has shown participation in a PE can be fulfilled in different methods. O'Sullivan & Tsangaridou (1992) had undergraduate students participate in a two-phase practicum. The first phase was teaching 6 to 10 junior high school students in a single, short instructional unit. The second phase was to teach an intact class for one class period for 15 days. The undergraduate students felt their lessons were successful, if they ensured student learning and had efficient classroom management during their teaching. Gallego (2001) had undergraduate students participating in a practicum at the elementary school level that entailed observation of students, assisting in daily management tasks and conducting lessons. From this study, the PST considered their practicum a success if there were genuine learning activities related to the academic content during the practicum. These studies illustrate the importance of getting students out in the "real world", before participating in the student teaching experience. The purpose of this study was to investigate PST perceptions of teaching before and after they participated in a semester long practicum in elementary physical education.

Methods

Participants & Context

Twenty pre-service physical education teaching majors (11 male & 9 female) voluntarily participated in this study. …